For those who aren’t aware, Prime was released for purchase yesterday. Today we will be previewing the top five tight end draft prospects who fit the Bengals draft mold. We’ve listed the top five graded prospects projected to be taken in the first round below.
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1. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama | Prime Grade: 5.22
Not only does O.J. Howard rank #1 for tight ends, he’s also tied for the overall #1 spot on Prime with Dalvin Cook. This means that Howard shares the most similar traits to players that the Bengals have drafted in the past. Howard sets himself apart from the pack with his size that is extremely similar to Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert.
2. David Njoku, TE, Miami | Prime Grade: 4.00
Njoku is projected to be the second tight end taken, but there is a distinct gap between him and Howard in Prime grades. The strikes against him include his age (20) and the fact the Bengals have never drafted University of Miami players under Marvin Lewis. As the 23rd ranked overall Prime prospect, it’s unlikely Njoku would be in consideration with the ninth pick.
3. Evan Ingram, TE, Ole Miss | Prime Grade: 4.33
Although Ingram is projected to be drafted later than Njoku, if the option were to present itself (it won’t), the Bengals would favor Ingram over Njoku. At 235, his weight would be an issue, but the Bengals could work with him in that area. Ingram’s versatility as a receiver would be comparable to Tyler Eifert.
4. Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland | Prime Grade: 4.22
Shaheen is nowhere near a first rounder, but he could intrigue the Bengals in the second or third round. Duke Tobin spoke about his interest in Shaheen during the NFL combine. At 6’6, he has adequate height for the position and had solid production in college.
5. Jake Butt, TE, Michigan | Prime Grade: 4.22
Jake Butt is projected for the second or third round with the same Prime grade as Shaheen. I think Butt would be a match the Bengals could use with 11 picks given his injury. The Bengals would be able to carry him on PUP list or even put him on IR if they wanted to. Butt could end up in stripes if the Bengals elect not to draft O.J. Howard in the first, but still want the same value.
Based on history, there is only a 13% chance that the Bengals could pick a tight end in the first round. Depending on how the draft shakes out, a tight end could end up being the top player on their board according to Prime. Tyler Eifert is scheduled to become a free agent in 2018 and is still battling injuries which could make Howard the first selection.